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Mental Health, Marketing & Small Business Ownership


Content Marketing

Latasha here 👋 I’m the owner of Uncanny Content and Resident Mental Health Advocate. I have a panic disorder, a connective tissue disorder, and I love talking about disability and mental illness. 

What you’re about to read is part personal story, part research, part industry critique; I hope it’s helpful. As a small business owner, I don’t think there is enough discussion about the effects of mental and physical health on our companies, teams, and the people we serve. So here I am. 

Let’s dig in and talk about the connection between your small business, your marketing, and your mental health.

Disclaimer: If you’re not in a great mental space right now, big hugs to you. This might not be what you need right now. Might I recommend an episode of your favorite TV show so you can forget everything for a while?

Mental health challenges in small business ownership

I am pathologically unemployable. Most entrepreneurs and business owners I know say they aren’t “fit for regular employment.” I’ve also heard other folks say “You choose your hard” when it comes to entrepreneurship vs. employment.

I am one of those people.

That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with all of the work this entails, though. Owning a business is hard — and it can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety. The stats make me feel a lot less alone: 

  • 75% of small business owners worry about their mental health (Inc.)
  • 56% have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or stress-related problems (Inc.)
  • 46% believe their stress and mental health are affecting the success of their business (Forbes)

What’s causing all this stress? Xero ran a report on the top 10 stressors for small businesses. Here are the top three:

  • 42% say managing a team is the main source of their stress (Can attest to this!)
  • 35% say it’s all the time they spend on admin (Amen!)
  • 31% say it’s the pressure of being responsible for the company’s success

It’s that last bullet that made me want to write this blog. 

Because while I understand how hard it is to manage a team and do all the fucking paperwork that a business requires, the truth is… this shit’s all on me. I have a team that can help me but at the end of the day, Uncanny Content is my baby. (If you hate the metaphor, I get it. But roll with it for a sec, k?)

I am responsible for building Uncanny, nurturing it, and improving it. And I can’t grow this business without marketing it. That, by its very nature, puts a LOT of pressure on everything I create for this brand, including this blog. **starts sweating again**

Marketing under pressure

The truth is, marketing strategies change rapidly on what feels like a daily basis. What used to work doesn’t work anymore. What the gurus tell us to do doesn’t work (or doesn’t work for long). New platforms and strategies are coming out weekly and the trends are impossible to keep up with unless you’re chronically online.

Just look at the rise of AI and its speed of adoption in less than a year! 

When the success of your business — aka your family’s livelihood — relies on the success of your marketing strategies… things get a little loaded. When strategies stop working, when things change, when you have to spend more money to make the same amount of (or less) money…emotions get involved. We already have high stress levels by virtue of simply living in this world, and marketing our businesses sure as shit doesn’t help.

Back to what I said before about trying to grow your business baby. You’re working harder to sustain your business at this point, and the wheels are starting to come off. 

This is where the woo-woo coaches love to talk about scarcity. When we live in a place of scarcity (or what I call simple fucking necessity), we aren’t thinking as clearly. We are scrambling to market our offers, we are accepting clients who aren’t a good fit, and/or we are filling our calendars with things that aren’t in alignment with our goals.

This is when our mental health really starts to shit out.

Because inevitably, all the things we’re trying to do don’t work. We hit a brick wall with a strategy or lead. It feels like we’re fighting an uphill battle just trying to book one client or sell one digital product. We have bills piling up, team members to pay, etc.

This is why I will never stop talking about capacity-first marketing, where you really look at what you have capacity to create and publish in a day, week, or month. So many strategists and “experts” out there say you need to post 5x a day to grow, or you have to publish 3 YouTube videos a week to see traction.

But those strategies are focused on metrics that don’t = dollars in your pocket, and they don’t care about how sustainable that strategy is for you. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to film 15-18 YouTube videos a month, nor do I have the budget to pay for all that editing and management. I also don’t have the capacity to film a Reel every day or go on Stories three times a day. 

However, it’s easy to fall into these programs, strategies, and frameworks because we’re grasping for straws. We’re hanging on by an emotional and financial thread, and something’s gotta give. 

Now, instead of just dealing with the regular stress of running a business, we’ve added our basic survival to the list. And WOOF. It’s hard. But that’s show biz, baby. We are just rolling with the punches… until life happens. Then we have to rethink everything we know about how we show up in our businesses.

Ask me how I know.

Life happens — and that impacts business decisions

If you’re new ‘round these parts, buckle up for quite the tale. If you’re not new here, here’s a refresher. This is the personal part of my story. Please skip to the next section about Transparency in Marketing if you don’t care.

We all know what happened in 2020, right? World go boom. On a smaller, personal scale, 2020 was an incredibly stressful year. I have a disability that makes me very high risk, my mother is an RN who cared for COVID patients, and we lost my grandpa to the virus. 

I know we all thought 2020 was “as bad as it could get.” I remember crying on New Year’s Eve 2020 because “at least the worst was behind us.” Jinxed myself.

In early February 2021, my sister started getting very, very sick. Within a couple of weeks, I got the call from my mom: “Jerrica is in an ambulance headed to the hospital.” 

I will try to keep this as short and generic as possible: We found out my sister was septic, had endocarditis, and needed open heart surgery. She denied the surgery and chose 6-8 weeks of IV antibiotics instead. 

This was, hands down, the most stressful couple of months of my life. Every phone call or text meant bad news. (It’s been three years and I still want to cry every time my phone rings.)

She almost died multiple times and ended up having heart surgery in the end. She recovered fairly well, considering all the shit her body had been through during the previous two months.

And while I won’t say she’s fully recovered (she has since had a number of medical emergencies that have caused us all a lot of anxiety), I am grateful every day that she’s still here.

Now… WTF does all that have to do with you?

All of that ^^? I did it while turning my small copywriting biz into a full-blown content strategy and copywriting agency. 

If you’ve ever supported a loved one through ongoing medical drama, you know what it’s like. Bills were high — and yet I could hardly work. I struggled to write, I had anxiety attacks on calls, and I barely slept. It’s really hard to work when you’re worried your sister is dying for two months straight. Who knew?

I was panicking at the prospect of losing my sister. I had extra panic attacks thinking about losing my business because *I* couldn’t work. I felt awful because I had contractors working with me, and clients who needed their content and copy. I was failing everyone.

So I had a decision to make: Scale up my business to work without me or scale back to the point where I wouldn’t make much money. Of course, making no money meant I couldn’t support myself, my family, my team, or the client roster I had built. I just couldn’t do that.

So I made the dumb decision to scale up — fast. I invested $11k in a mastermind program to help me take agency-building steps… and I got to fucking work. It worked. If you know anything about Uncanny Content, you know that we are a small-yet-mighty team of strategists and copywriters, and we still here, baby! 

But like I said. This was the dumb decision. At least, for my physical and mental health.

My husband and I call this window of time “The Panic Cave Days.” I was having daily panic attacks, sometimes multiple times a day. And yet I still had to show up on social media, on client calls, and also do all the work of running a business while scaling. Did I mention I have a heart condition and I was beginning to have severe palpitations that almost put me in the hospital? 

I said it was bad and I meant it. 

I look back on this time in my life and business and truly have no idea how I made it out. I can’t believe how fast Uncanny grew during such a tumultuous time in my life. But it had a very large price tag: My sanity and my health.

Since “The Shitshow That Was 2021,” I have had to start taking Zoloft (praise be, science!) and emergency anxiety meds. I’ve started physical therapy and Pilates… and I’ve intentionally slowed down my work. I’ve upped my talk therapy visits and made it a point to talk about my experiences in a public way.

While I know that we all have to do things that are hard, stressful, and downright painful, we don’t have to pretend like everything is OK while they happen. 

Transparency in marketing (+ crossing the oversharing line)

My friend Megan Dowd talks a lot about The One Sock Method™. Essentially this is a framework for how to share what’s happening/what has happened in your life without airing all your dirty laundry. Rather, just one sock.

This approach shows us how we can be transparent and honest in our marketing and online presence… without oversharing and derailing our business efforts. 

During The Panic Cave Days, I was showing up online mostly as myself, focusing mostly on what I had the bandwidth to share — my advice on content. 

I also built structures in my business to ensure that other people on our team would be more “visible.” As of 2024, I have removed myself from much of the marketing process. I highly recommend this for any business owner — especially those with mental or physical health challenges.

This has reduced the mental load on myself and made it possible for me to step back without worrying about who was going to be promoting our services on any given week. More than that, though, this experience showed me that it’s OK to share what’s happening, to be real with others, and to encourage people to ask for help.

Again, WTF does this have to do with YOU?

I don’t think we should hide our struggles as much as we’ve been trained to do. I think we’re building businesses differently, where it’s OK to be human. If you’re in a place where you want to share a bit of your struggles, think about the One Sock Method™ and how you can share without oversharing. Please don’t process your trauma in real-time — you still run a business. But we’re running Human First™ businesses (another trademark from my friend Megan). 

Showing your successes and your challenges humanizes your brand, sets a new standard for how we do business, and can offer you the support you so desperately need during hard times.

NOTE: I have seen this done poorly, where people trauma dump and then basically say “Buy from me/work with me to help me fund this personal emergency.” That’s not what transparency in marketing is all about. Transparency is meant to humanize and make connections, not directly force your audience into a sale.

What if we stopped acting like we have it together? 

My goal in writing all of this is to let you know that small business ownership is already a lot of work. When you add in life, marketing, team, and your own needs… it becomes even more of a melting pot of emotions and triggers.

But rather than burying hard times in pricy coaching packages (“I just need to learn how THEY did it!”) or booking a project to design a new brand (“This will help me be excited about my business again!), what if we just… admitted that we were having a hard time? We’re humans running businesses, not the other way around.

What if we could talk openly (and professionally) about what it’s like to do this work, instead of putting up a veneer of polish and perk? What if we could just be fucking real with each other?

It’s OK to be overwhelmed. It’s OK if business is hard. It’s OK if times are tough. It’s OK if your personal life is imploding and you’re just trying to keep the lights on. We are not alone in this — the stats show us that other business owners struggle with their mental health, their energy, their own personal challenges. 

This shit is hard. We don’t have to make it harder by pretending it’s not. 

Alright… It’s time to sign off. In the infamous words of the world’s great journalist, Jerry Springer: “Take care of yourself… and each other.”

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